Differences in Perception of Risk Between People Who Have and Have Not Experienced Salmonella Food Poisoning


* Address correspondence to Sharon M. Parry, Department of Epidemiology, Statistics and Public Health, University of Wales College of Medicine, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XN, UK; tel: +44 (0)29 2074 2316; ParrySM@cardiff.ac.uk.

This work was carried out while the author was working at the Institute of Food Research, Norwich.


It is believed that food hygiene precautions in domestic kitchens are an important strategy in efforts to reduce the incidence of sporadic food poisoning, but recent research has shown that people who have suffered food poisoning handle the same types of foods and adopt similar food hygiene precautions in their kitchens to the rest of the population. This suggests the need to examine other factors. A case-control study of sporadic Salmonella food poisoning was conducted to investigate several domestic kitchen risk factors. Measures of perception of risk, knowledge, and control associated with food poisoning in case and control respondents are reported here. It was found that perceived personal risk from food poisoning in the home was less than perceived risk to other people. In contrast, ratings of personal knowledge about food poisoning and personal control over food poisoning in the home were seen to be greater than other people's knowledge and control. There were no differences between the cases and the controls in their ratings of knowledge about food poisoning or their control over food poisoning. However, cases perceived their personal risk from food poisoning to be higher than controls. Both case and control samples exhibited optimistic bias but this was reduced in the case sample, suggesting that experience with food poisoning may reduce optimistic bias.